Local News for Tuesday 31st October 2017

Fruit salad on the beach
Islanders are being urged to look out for fruit on the beaches of the Western Isles, after a cargo spill of bananas and pineapples last week in the Atlantic. Over the night of the 19th and 20th October the MV LOMBOK STRAIT lost two containers of bananas and pineapples overboard due to stormy seas. A spokesman for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) told Isles FM that the two container loads of fresh fruit were expected to come ashore in about three weeks, anywhere on the west coasts of the islands, or as far north as Shetland. The spokesman said: “The containers were lost at approximately 48N,28W in mid-Atlantic. Assuming that the containers broke up on entering the water, and after checking that bananas and pineapples float, the potential trajectory shows possible landfalls along the Western Isles and Shetlands. Out of interest and to help refine our future models, the date and location of any reports of landfall by the fruit will help oceanographic research.” Any photos will, in addition, be entertaining for social media!

Call for study on Benbecula air service
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil is asking the Scottish Government to instigate a study on the introduction of a Public Service Obligation (PSO) on the Benbecula to Glasgow air service. He’s asking Transport and Islands Minister Humza Yousaf MSP to think again, after he stated that there are no plans to introduce a PSO on the route. Mr MacNeil said: “There is a PSO on the Barra air service and there is competition on the Stornoway air service. However, Benbecula has neither and I believe that a PSO would ensure that airfares and service levels as well as perhaps scheduling are reasonable for the Uist community. I am asking the Minister to revisit this issue and that he starts a study on a PSO for this route, on the basis that the commercial operator cannot and does not run a full weekly service year round, with some afternoons in winter not having a service.” Mr MacNeil’s intervention has been welcomed by Uist councillors. Cllr Calum MacMillan said: “Fare paying passengers travelling to and from Uist are being disadvantaged by the current system. The occupancy rate is currently less than 30% which means that 70% of the total available seats on this service could be used for free." Cllr Iain MacNeil added: “I welcome the support of our MP in one of a number of priorities identified by Uist and Barra Councillors. I was disappointed when the initial approach to the Minister was turned down but had agreed to continue making a case for a PSO, so this intervention by Angus Brendan is timely and welcome."

Spooky happenings at sea
There have been spooky sightings in Hebridean waters as Marine Harvest reported a gigantic Pacific Bluefin Tuna, weighing 300 kilos and measuring three metres in length, which appeared inside one of their salmon pens off Colonsay. The fish is thought to have burst into the pen ‘like a torpedo’ while being chased by dolphins, and then remained inside with the salmon until lifted out by fishfarm workers. Farm Manager Ali Geddes said: “We’d noticed a lot of activity around the southern part of the farm – there seemed to be a real feeding frenzy going on with the dolphins and porpoises. It’s now clear they were chasing a tuna. These things can move at real speed – up to 50 mph – and it seems to have burst through the foot of the pen like a torpedo.” The fish was safely lifted using a net and crane, and released back into open water. No salmon escaped and the pen was quickly repaired by divers.

Ceilidh night for Mòd success
To celebrate the hard work and achievements of local performers during this year's National Mòd, a Post-Mòd Cèilidh is to be held at Stornoway Town Hall this Friday. The free event will feature choirs and soloists from Lewis and Harris, with donations to be given to An Comunn Gàidhealach to help performers cover their costs for attending the Mòd. There’s also to be a raffle at the interval and the concert promises to be a great opportunity for musicians and singers to showcase their talents.

Latest lottery winners
The latest round of winners drawn in the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery are Maureen Stewart of Barvas, who won first prize of £149.28, second prozewinner Evelyn Maclean from Stornoway winning £62.20, and Andrew ‘Jock’ Budge from Edinburgh, who won the third prize of £37.92.